Bonsai tree: Mountain Hemlock

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Bonsai tree: Mountain Hemlock

Source: Bonsai Tonight

I recently added a new tree to my collection – a mountain hemlock. I haven’t worked with the variety before so I have a lot of learning ahead of me.

Mountain Hemlock

Mountain hemlock – Tsuga mertensiana

My first goal for the tree is to develop a healthy root base. To do this, I will bare root half of the tree and introduce the exposed roots to bonsai soil. I start the repotting by searching for the surface roots.


Hemlock – out of the pot

I’m in luck – large surface roots are sitting just below the soil line. The roots aren’t perfect, but they are healthy and plentiful.

Surface roots

Surface roots

After locating the surface roots, I removed all of the soil from the front half of the rootball. As I worked, I found two large roots that had been cut and since healed over.


Root callus

To encourage new root development, I cut away the callus on one of the roots. I’ll do the same for the other root the next time I repot.

Cutting the callus away

Callus removed

As there were no large roots, I was able to fit the tree into a large bonsai pot. Here’s how I prepared the wires.

Wiring the pot

Pot ready to go

The tree’s large surface roots made tying the tree into the pot a breeze. Here you can see I protected the root with an automotive belt – a chopstick kept the wire from sliding closer to the trunk.

Auto belt protects roots

Automotive belt protects the root

Seeing the tree in a bonsai pot made me excited about the tree’s future – especially the deadwood near the base of the trunk.

Hemlock - repotting complete

Hemlock – repotting complete

Although the deadwood here is somewhat unusual, the formation is not uncommon among hemlock bonsai.

Deadwood detail

Deadwood near the trunk

From what I can tell, hemlock bonsai is becoming more popular these days. I hope so – I think it’s an attractive variety. For more hemlock fun, check out Michael Hagedorn’s intriguingly titled post, “Mountain Hemlock on Levitated Nylon Board.


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